The WWE draft comes every year after Wrestlemania to save the fans from themselves. Just as they are itching for new feuds and rivalries, stories come to a close and major players change shows. Sometimes the moves pay off, such as the case with the Miz. Sometimes they fail, as the move to Raw did for MVP. Sometimes, nobody even realizes and mediocrity turns into obscurity just before the words "future endeavors" become attached to the name. In moving the supplemental draft to Tuesday afternoon, all picks were in and Smackdown was set to go with all their new talent. This show did its best to showcase all its new acquistions, even at the expense of established stars. It felt like the first episode of a new season, with some characters leaving the show and new characters emerging, all while the star lurked in the background. Let's look back at how the new Smackdown is beginning to take shape.
Teddy Long opened the show and proclaimed Smackdown to have gotten the better end of the draft. Now, I like the guys Smackdown got, but let's not kid ourselves and think that they got the better end at this moment. His comments are like a parent's about their own kid who just isn't that good. As much as you want to believe the validity of your statement, everyone knows you are saying it because you have to. Teddy proceeded to introduce the first acquisition, Kofi Kingston, who has a match to open the show.
Kofi's opponent was Chris Jericho, who had to say his goodbyes to Smackdown. As much as this was a "hello" show, it was also a "goodbye" show for some main event talent. Chris basically said what he always says and promised to become the face of Raw, which prompted Kofi to mutter something incoherently and incorporate "Boom Boom Boom" into his promo. Not that Kofi has been an expert promo man, but that one was pretty terrible. Luckily, it was short, and most of his time on screen was spent fighting. He is pretty good at that, and gained a huge victory by hititng the Trouble in Paradise on Jericho for the win. The new guy got one over on the departing star, which would become a theme for the night. As for Kofi, it certainly helps as he looks to gain a spot towards the top of the card on the blue brand.
After the match, the first of a series of promos aired featuring the champ, Jack Swagger. Each one was a "did you know" about the champ, with each making him sound cockier than the last. It also has to make you respect the hell out of the guy as he realy has had an accomplished life. The first one though reaked of cheap heat as he spoke of meeting the president after his Sooners won the Rose Bowl and referred to George W. Bush as "the great president". While many political pundits will disagree as to W's place in history as a president, I don't think you'll find any proclaiming him to be the best. This was an attempt at cheap heat from the younger generation who tend to be more liberal, but a mixed state like Pennsylvania yielded subtle boos. If you want that cheap heat, cut that promo in New York or Boston. Trust me, it would have gotten you plenty of boos.
Jericho is next seen talking to someone backstage and saying how it sucks the person is leaving. This person is unknown until his giant fist knocks out Jericho. Obviously, this is Big Show, and his gimmick is going to be knocking people out who piss him off. Oddly enough, I kind of like it.
In a similar segment that actually takes place in the ring, Chavo Guerrero welcomes himself back to Smackdown and figures that Smackdown will be better for him because the guest hosts can't hold him back. He would be wrong as Kane came out and chokeslammed him. He proceeded to pick up the mic and say "welcome back Chavo" and then hit his pyro and walk away. All 3 people that felt this move for Chavo would revitalize his career can sit down now and realize he will be just as big a joke on Smackdown as he was on Raw despite his immense in ring talent.
Before the next match, Shad Gaspard had to waste precious airtime and remind us that it's "His Tyme". The more I hear him, the more I realize that no time will EVER be his time. He tried to go slick with the pinstripe suit, but I'm just not buying it. Can we just fastforward through the summer when it's completely clear that his push will fail so we can put him either back with JTG or make him someone's bodyguard?
It seemed like forever, but we finally got another match which yielded a similar result to the first. In this contest, the departing John Morrison faced off on the debuting Cody Rhodes, who was also returning from being punted by Randy Orton. Rhodes show no ill effects and really delivered in this match. Perhaps it's working with Morrison who doesn't seem to have a bad match with anyone, but I've been impressed with Cody for a while now and he's done nothng to make me change that opinion. Fantastic TV match that got over 10 minutes and saw Cody actually pick up the win with the devastating Cross Rhodes seemingly out of nowhere. I love his finisher and I think Cody can do big things on Smackdown. As I alluded to, this was another case of new guy going over guy who is leaving and this strategy was far from being over. One interesting note was that Striker was referring to Cody as "the uncommon son of the common man". I wonder if this will somehow be worked into Cody's gimmick?
Before the next segment, we get another Swagger promo. There's going to be a few of these and each makes me more jealous of his life. More importantly, after this one, Edge makes his way to the ring. We see a replay of him spearing Orton, and as questions run through everyone's mind about where he stands, he proceeds to talk about Smackdown being his home and even goes as far as saying he loves the fans. This seemed to show that he was still a face and that his spear on Orton was merely his way of inserting his name in the main event picture on Raw. However, it took an old friend to show us otherwise. When Edge was done with his emotional goodbye, Christian came out to the excitement of everyone. It's been a long time since Edge and Christian were in the ring together and most people remember the good old days of the "15 second poses". That would not happen on this night though, as Christian called Edge out to be a liar. After a while, Edge finally admitted he was one and that he was basically pulling the strings of the fans for the last few months. This solidified Edge's heel turn whether I like it or not. To be honest, I'm tired of Edge as a heel, and I think the poses a weird issue with Edge and Jericho both being heels on Raw now, but for the moment, it made the segment great. It essentially led to a brawl, with Christian getting the upper hand before Edge hightailed it out of there. This led Christian to sing "nah nah hey hey goodbye" and wish good riddance to the "master psychologist. To me, this was the segment of the night and it hopefully showed that Christian can hang with main event heels.
After the break, Edge is shown backstage where he runs into the Big Show. They both agree that it's a shame we won't get to see Edge vs. Christian which Christian made mention of, but Show also thinks it's a shame we won't see Show vs. Edge and lets Edge know by knocking him out. That's 2 thus far, but I wonder if these guys are going to sell the punch the way Miz did with a black and blue and trouble talking. My guess is no, but only I would complain about such subtleties.
Next was the women's match and the debut of Kelly Kelly. As Grisham likes to say apparently "the name so nice, they named her twice". Yeah, I found that lame too. Of course, she's the new gal in down, and despite the adorable shirts Laycool made saying "bad move Kelly", the spunky blonde got the victory over Layla after Beth did the damage and she hit her atrocious finisher. I heard rumors that Kelly was coming to Smackdown to get a huge push. If that's the case, can she get a new finisher please? Even so, how will she get a push as a face with Beth Phoenix holding the title? I'd attempt to answer that, but I don't care enough about Kelly Kelly to try.
Another Swagger promo here. Apparently he turned down a lot of top colleges. That's usually how it works when you are a sports star, but I guess WWE fans don't realize that?
That promo was followed up by an awful one by Dolph Ziggler. He came to the ring to proclaim Hornswoggle to be in "leprechaun heaven". This basically served the purpose of telling the audience that "I will be fueding with a midget while Cody Rhodes takes my spot in the midcard and gets opportunities at titles WAY before I do". He may think he's perfection, but he's about to enter a very bad feud that hopefully won't destroy him. For his sake, I really hope I'm wrong about this.
We get a backstage promo from Matt Hardy next where he talks about getting stomped in the head by Drew McIntyre (which looked vicious by the way) and proclaiming he'd be back, but as he said that, he got attacked by Drew again, ending with Drew planting Matt with his DDT on the concrete. My hope is that Matt will be out for a few weeks only to return to beat McIntyre for the IC belt as vindication. My fear is that he will return and get demolished again, which may even lead to his release. I think the WWE needs to refer to the crowd on this one, as Matt gets better pops than a lot of the main event faces. He deserves the Intercontinental title and with a couple of month run could eventually elevate a Ziggler or Rhodes in his next feud. McIntyre could then move to the upper midcard and eventual main event if he continues to progress. It's a win for everyone, but I do wonder if the WWE will be smart enough to follow the crowd.
JTG gets a little promo next, and he hasn't changed his persona at all. He is still wearing the glasses and saying "chhhyea", but coming off a victory over his partner, he has a better chance at success. Actually, I think he has some pretty good charisma, but might just be too goofy to go anywhere. Then again, I say that about The Pope in TNA and he's main eventing, so what do I know?
Straight Edge Society is out next and Punk puts over his victory. He tried to get heat by saying "I did it all by myself", but the crowd totally missed it. The crowd was awful on this show, but this was especially bad. He was clearly insinuating that he had help from the hooded interloper, but NOBODY picked up on it. Pretty pathetic. Anyway, these comments lead to MVP coming out and ragging on SES for being boring and taking the fun out of Smackdown. This was probably the best promo MVP has cut in months, and it actually got me excited for an MVP/CM Punk feud, which I think might happen after one more Punk/Mysterio match where Mysterio gets hurt (he's been rumored to need surgery of some sort so he might need a break). Of course, there was a brawl, Rey came out, and it led to a tag match between the Society and Rey and MVP. Sticking with our theme of the night, MVP got the win after he hit the 305 on Luke Gallows. The 305 looks kind of like Paydirt, which we obviously won't be seeing anymore since Shelton got his walking papers, but I like it sooooooooo much better than "the playmaker" which I have proclaimed the worst finisher on numerous occasions. This simple change of finishing moves might get MVP to the main event, though feuding with Punk and going over would certainly help as well. In a matter of minutes, MVP has made a main event push look a lot more like reality than it ever has. Of course, I probably said that last year when MVP debuted on Raw by interrupting Randy Orton, but I was definitely impressed by his work on this night.
Before MVP and Mysterio could leave though, the hooded fiend in Straight Edge attire struck again on Rey Mysterio. The match was already over, but clearly this man has targeted the master of the 619 (also a lame move). I guess it makes sense to keep the intrigue around this figure, but I do wonder how long they can keep it going before the reveal who it is.
Before the main event, Swagger gets one more promo in where he talks about his perfect GPA in school. He mentioned this last week when referring to the economy, but he is certainly selling himself as someone who doesn't just say he is better, he has accomplished more than all of us.........combined.
The main event was Swagger himself. He comes out to cut a promo, but the crowd, who was dead the entire night, was incredibly rude and couldn't stop booing. It's one thing to boo in between throughts to show you don't like what he is saying, but to boo so much that the guy can't get his promo out is downright disrespectful. Swagger did ok to combat it though, as he played to it as much as he could. The promo basically accomplished what all the others did, as it showed his accomplishments while adding that his dad predicted he would be a champion someday. I'm not sure I like that part, but he certainly has accomplished a lot. However, proclaiming Oklahoma "the greatest University in the land?" Jim Ross wasn't there, so who are you kidding? It's a decent school, but certainly not the greatest. Ask Sam Bradford if he thinks the Sooners are more accomplished than the Florida Gators (sorry, as a Gator fan, I had to do it!) The fans grew tired of the speech, as did I, and finally Teddy Long comes out. Other than completely overusing the word "playa", Teddy announces the number one contender for Swagger's title and it's Big Show! It didn't take long for Big Show to become a face, but I guess knocking out 3 hated heels will do that for a man. After running down Swagger's accomplishments, he makes it 4 hated heels knocked out as he hints that his punch will mean early retirement for Swagger. Great reaction for Show as he clearly is well received. Even I liked Show's promo and punch, and I thought he'd fall flat on his own for sure. I'll be the first to admit that I felt Show's place was in a tag team being a dominant face or heel and elevating his partners and opponents, but he might be able to do that in singles as well. I love that he'll probably put Swagger over, but I do wonder where he'll go after that feud.
It was clear that the purpose of this show was to put over the new talent as forces to be reckoned with. Knowing that much of the Raw audience does not watch Smackdown, putting people like Kofi and Cody Rhodes over seemingly more over talent like Jericho and Morrison does wonders for the new guys and doesn't destroy the departing stars as the Raw audience will be completely oblivious to the happenings on Friday night. I thought WWE did a good job of debuting most of the new guys and girls, but just like I would with any first episode of a new season, I'm going to wait and see as it pertains to the "new" Smackdown. With that said, this opening episode left a positive taste in my mouth and I do expect good things to come in Smackdown's future. I leave you with the Edge/Christian confrontation. It was great, and I don't know when we will see it again, so enjoy it while it lasts: